Food is not unlike fashion and the old often comes back into vogue. Right now, you could say Anglo-Indian cuisine is the culinary equivalent of shift dresses, winged eyes and platform heels. The food born at the confluence of the British and Indian cooking traditions was once confined to the Anglo-Indian community, now dwindling in numbers in this country, as many leave for foreign shores. Lately, though, fare from Kolkata’s Bow Barracks, British Raj clubs and railway colonies elsewhere is enjoying the sort of popularity that causes gastro pubs, standalone restaurants and even five-star outlets to put it on their menus.
Chef and restaurateur Subhankar Dhar of the award-winning Esplanade in Bangalore, while working with Bengali classics, is also a specialist in the unique cuisine of Kolkata, which has strong Anglo-Indian influences. “Anyone growing up in Kolkata as I did, knows and loves the dishes of the Anglo-Indian community there. I remember, in particular, the amusingly titled Bubble and Squeak, Steamroller Chicken – which was flattened and crumb-fried – Bengal Lancers’ Prawn Curry and Potluck Casserole, all of which we ate in the homes of our Anglo-Indian friends,” he says. As the cuisine is still considered niche, a full-scale restaurant may not be commercially viable. “However, food festivals and special menus are a great way to celebrate these dishes,” adds Subhankar.